Photo by Mark Edward Harris.Game OnWith the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, just around the corner, KoreAm presents an ethnocentric list of five contenders to follow.
by STEVE HAN1. Kim Yuna, The Comeback Queen
After conquering the Vancouver Games in a landslide four years ago, Kim Yuna of South Korea is on a quest to win her second straight Olympic gold medal in Sochi, Russia, in February. But the prospects for the figure skater, considered a national hero in her homeland, don’t feel quite as assured this time around.
The 23-year-old is coming off of a metatarsal injury she suffered last September. The injury took her out of the earlier part of the season ahead of the Sochi Games, and only returned to the ice at the 2013 Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia last month. She won gold in her comeback, but showed some signs of rustiness in both her short program and free skate.
Kim’s total score of 204.49 in Zagreb was enough to win the second-tier competition, but it was underwhelming for her usual standards. She scored a record-setting 228.56 in Vancouver to give Korea its first-ever Olympic gold medal in figure skating. Meanwhile, Kim’s rival, Mao Asada of Japan, is putting together her best season in recent years. Asada has already won three straight competitions to start the season, scoring an average of 205.44. The Sochi Games will likely be her last chance for redemption after settling for a silver medal in Vancouver.
Though Kim has admitted publicly to the difficulty of competing after winning Olympic gold in 2010, and has gone through some unsettling coaching changes, her stunning performance at the 2013 World Championships silenced many doubters. She won that competition handily, as the only competitor to earn perfect 10’s, and showed the world this athlete may just have another gold left in her.( Collapse )